Where do I even start?? [Warning: long post alert] So I’m back from Boston. I got back Saturday morning (about 2am Boston time, 7am UK time). Saturday was a tough day staying awake! The flight time was only around 6.5 hours so it’s not fully overnight. But anyway, I’m back and feeling more human (just). I haven’t finished my race recap of Boston yet so that’ll come (hopefully) towards the end of this week. So for now I’ll recap the days leading up to it.
My mum and me flew to Boston Friday early afternoon. I watched two films (Spotlight and The Big Short – both really good. Spotlight was especially interesting as it’s set in Boston). I do love long-haul flights for their movies!
We arrived in the afternoon Boston time (Boston is 5 hours behind the UK). We were staying in the Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor. I’d booked through the Boston Marathon so got a discounted price and as it was connected to the marathon the hotel knew lots of information and themed the weekend for the runners (free yoga Saturday morning, free water taxi to Boston mainland on Monday, carb-based meals in the restaurant, etc.). They even put a finish line on the floor.
The hotel was located very close to the airport which was very handy (and had a free shuttle) though we were, as I mentioned, a water taxi ride from Boston proper. At first I thought this was annoying but actually it was lovely. The views from the restaurant were phenomenal.
We had such good views of the Boston skyline and a lovely path to walk along the water.
As we were tired we didn’t fancy getting the water taxi over and hunting for somewhere to eat. We caught an Uber (honestly, this app blew my mind – it’s like magic!) and went to Angela’s Cafe, in East Boston, which I’d seen on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and I’d also been heartily recommended by Anthony Rodriguez, a member of the DDD team.
As we weren’t hugely hungry we kept it simple with a soup for my mum and a chicken salad for me. We also had a HUGE stone bowl of guacamole and tortilla chips. Heavenly! I was worried that the place would be a bit ‘off-beat- for my mum but she loved it. Honestly the food was awesome and so fresh! The restaurant was very small but clearly a local favourite. I wish we could have gone back there to fully try out some of the other food but sadly we didn’t have time.
The next morning we got up early as we were jetlagged and had an early breakfast in the hotel before catching the water taxi over. The water taxi took less than eight minutes and was a lovely way to travel as the views were great.
It was a bit chilly and windy but otherwise lovely and sunny. Our mission was to head straight to the marathon expo first to get that done. We used the metro system, the “T”, and then followed all the other marathoners to the convention centre. It was easy to spot runners – they were everywhere and most of them either carrying a map that came with the marathon info or wearing Boston marathon clothing. It was very exciting.
We stopped a few times to take photos of course. The Boston 5k was going on at that time so there was lots going on.
We found the expo and headed straight to the bib pick-up area. We were actually slightly early as they hadn’t even started giving out the bibs yet. But we only had a few minutes to wait – our timing was awesome.The expo was great. Similar to Berlin where there were large areas of different companies selling running-related stuff. As Adidas were the clothing sponsor for the marathon they got the largest area and I was literally in heaven.
I decided to treat myself to some Boston merchandise because it was all so lovely and I wanted a few items with Boston Marathon 2016 on. It was expensive though as you can imagine! I decided to go for a black Adidas jacket and a blue tank top. There were the traditional blue jackets but I found the colours quite garish, though so many people were going for them and we’d see them everywhere the days after.
We carried on moseying about but I didn’t buy anything else. It was starting to get busy so we headed out to start a day of shopping, something we were both excited about. My mum, bless her, was wonderful joining me in the expo and I could see her getting into the excitement of it all as she was beginning to realise just how big a deal running Boston was to the US.
We got to the shops just as they were opening. We mainly stuck to the Prudential Centre, which is basically a mall with an observatory on the top floor (it’s a huge skyscraper).
Though we were tempted by the observatory and seeing the city from so high we were too distracted by shops
I found a Lululemon and almost bought one of their swiftly tops which I’d be hankering over for ages on the Internet. It’s so expensive for basically a long-sleeved running top but it’s such a lovely fit and lovely material. It also had “Boston 2016” on the back. In the end I decided not to buy it (MISTAKE).
After lots of of shopping we started to feel hungry so decided to try out the Cheesecake Factory as it was close by, relatively inexpensive and easy. It was ridiculously busy everywhere now (runners everywhere). We had a 20 minute wait but we decided it was worth it as everywhere else was rammed. We’d never been to a Cheesecake factory before so it was a new experience.
I couldn’t believe all the cheesecakes and cake that were in the display cabinet. It was amazing! As we instantly knew we were going to have cheesecake for pudding, we decided to be a bit sensible and have a light salad for lunch.
The salad was delicious, with goat’s cheese and chicken. But obviously the cheesecake was the winner here. It was ginormous.
I went for the Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake while my mum went for the Salted Caramel Cheesecake. I’d love to say that I couldn’t eat all of it but that would be a lie. I’m such a greedy cake monster that I polished the entire thing off. I felt ridiculously full afterwards of course but I fully enjoyed it! That cheesecake will forever haunt my dreams now…it was so good. My mum, being a far more reasonable human being, couldn’t finish hers. Luckily the waitress took it away quickly as I was eyeing it up. God.
I rationalised that as the marathon was on Monday I could enjoy my eating on the Saturday but on the Sunday I’d be more sensible. In theory. During the meal we chatted away to two ladies who were running the marathon the next day in the table near us. It was incredible, everywhere there were marathoners.
We did a bit more shopping and sightseeing then headed back, by walking this time, to the harbour area. We decided to go back to the hotel to chill for a bit and then head out again for dinner that evening. We made sure to book somewhere before we got the water taxi back as it was so busy. We booked dinner for a lot later as obviously we were stuffed!
The next day I got up with the intentions of doing a shakeout run. I asked at reception where I could do this and they provided me with a handy hand-size map that showed different options – a longer 6+ mile run or a shorter three mile run. This was fantastic! I eyeballed it for a while then decided I knew where to go for my three miler. It basically ran alongside the water so it was lovely and scenic.
In true Anna standard, I did get lost. But amazingly I managed to find my way back and run exactly three miles! I saw lots of runners about and we all smiled and waved at each other.
Then my mum and me had breakfast again in the hotel. The breakfast at the hotel was lovely; it was a buffet-style affair but you could order off the menu as well. I ordered a bacon, cheese and lobster omelette to have alongside my oatmeal and black coffee.
This set me up nicely for another day of walking around Boston. We decided to follow the Freedom Trail, which would take in the main historic sights of Boston on foot. It was quite fun as we used an app on our phone which would tell us information about each thing we saw and it was a bit like an Easter egg hunt trying to find the different things.
Basically red bricks would guide you to each different place and there would be a plaque giving information about different buildings and places. The app helped though giving a map and some context (you could use it offline).Not knowing a huge amount of American history (or barely any…) it was quite interesting. It also helped us get a good bearing on the city. This was really helpful for me as the next day, marathon Monday, I’d need to get myself to the Boston Common ridiculously early on my own from the hotel (catching the water taxi, then walking about a mile) to catch the shuttle buses to the start of the marathon, 26-something miles away from Boston.
We walked down Newbury Street which was teeming with people. The sun was shining and it was a lovely day. We found a lovely little Italian restaurant, called Trattoria, for a light lunch.
Again I had a salad with chicken and goat’s cheese (I know what I like!). It was delicious and the atmosphere was lovely. We chatted to a table next to us who’s dad was running the marathon for the seventh time. It was great to chat to someone who had done it.
We did a bit more shopping in the Prudential Centre and I decided to go back to Lululemon to buy that top I’d seen the day before. Alas though they’d sold out of the Boston 2016 one… I was fairly grumpy but tried on a load of stuff and decided to treat myself (I had gone with a shopping budget) to a few things. Lululemon is expensive but the quality is good. I treated myself to two jackets and the swiftly top sans the “Boston 2016” on the back. (It wasn’t until later on when I checked the receipt I realised they hadn’t charge me for one of the jackets. Though I had watched the sales person ring them up and fold them! Unknowingly I’d walked out of the shop without them charging me for a £90 jacket!! My lucky day it seems! My mum joked that we could now never go back to that shop).
I also treated myself to a few Nike items (one long sleeved top and a tank top with Boston on it and personalised with my name – for free!).
We checked out the finish line as well – which was ridiculously busy.
We then spent some time around Quincy Market as well, which again was just heaving with activity. So many people! It was mental. In fact the entire day we couldn’t move for runners running everywhere or just people wearing Boston marathon jackets or just lycra-clad people. Everyone looked super fit and healthy. It seemed the whole city knew about the marathon. In shops the staff would be talking about it, wondering whether to go down and watch it (it’s a holiday for them on the Monday) and people would ask if you were running it. Though it was nice, it was making me exceptionally nervous. My hamstring had been really tight for a few days and I was so worried it would cause me issues. I could feel it when I ran that morning – not pain, just a tightness. I was worried about all those hills. My mum, bless her, did her best to calm me down.
Quincy Market is full of restaurants, food stalls and shops. We wandered around for a bit and then I spotted someone with a chocolate covered apple. Where was this!? I soon found a stall inside the market hall and bought one immediately.
We had already decided to eat a meal in the restaurant that evening as it was easy and I didn’t want to have too late a night. The hotel’s restaurant was very posh and looked out onto the harbour. We’d booked in the morning (or so we thought) and at 7.30pm arrived for our table. They looked confused and said there was no reservation. We clearly saw a woman write down our names, our room number and our time that morning so we were a bit annoyed. Especially as we had nowhere else to go really for dinner (without stress) and it was fairly important I ate a good meal. It was busy though and I started to get nervous.
Thankfully the hostess was very apologetic and got us a table and told us our appetisers would be covered, which was a lovely touch (and quite appreciated as the menu was quite expensive!). So it actually worked in our favour. Boringly I went for a salad for my main as I wanted to keep things simple but I just could not resist the chicken wings for my starter.
The chicken wings fully rocked my world. As a starter there were LOADS. It was pretty much a main meal (for a normal person). Perhaps not my wisest choice before a marathon but they were bloody awesome. And you know I love my salads
And then we headed to bed. Saturday and Sunday we’d walked over 30,000 steps each day. I was shattered. I knew this was a bad move before the marathon but at the same time, we had a great time and I would rather be busy and walking than sat contemplating the next day. It also helped me fall asleep quickly and deeply both nights.
And then the marathon…
What expos have you been to before?
Have you ever been to Boston?
Do you do a lot of walking the days before a big race?